Media Matters

  • Thanks to a legal technicality, not innocence, Bill Cosby is now out of jail—having morphed from “America’s dad” to “America’s predator.” Cosby’s off-stage and off-camera MO was drugging and sexually violating women. But there’s another, ironic, aspect to Cosby’s outing, downfall and imprisonment. He also betrayed a society that needed prominent African-Americans as mainstream role models. Not only was he a saluted, beloved father figure on TV, his stand-up routines and comedy albums were G-rated. He never trafficked in off-color material, whether sexual or racial. His appeal was in finding common-ground humor–think Noah’s Ark or “Fat Albert”–that was universal, regardless of race. He should have been a well-timed, appreciated American icon and hero—instead of a societal monster on the prowl.
  • “Too many columns are less sober analyses than snarky stand-up acts or primal screams. The stand-up and the screams sell.”—Frank Bruni, New York Times.
  • Too bad the mainstream media became early enablers of the anti-ACA pushback by adopting the demonizing, anti-presidential, eponymous label of “Obamacare.”
  • Gluttony as sport: Enough coverage of the annual Nathan’s (somehow) Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog-Eating Contest on Coney Island. Cornhole never looked so entertaining.

Sports Shorts

  • Here’s a sure sign of a sports town–and it’s more than multiple championships and a “Champa Bay” moniker. In the Lightning’s case, it’s also about a sold-out Amalie Arena for a WATCH PARTY. “This town is a sports town…and I’m proud to be part of it,” underscored Bolts’ coach Jon Cooper.
  • Baseball is back in the Olympics for the first time since 2008. And the Rays organization will be well represented on the 24-man U.S. roster by pitchers Shane Baz and Joe Ryan. Both are currently with the Rays’ Triple-A affiliate in Durham.
  • Sha’Carri Richardson, an Olympic favorite in the women’s 100-meter dash, will not be competing in that event. She tested positive for marijuana. Marijuana?
  • “If the (Rays’) bullpen goes south, the season will go south.” Rays TV analyst Brian Anderson.

Trumpster Diving

  • Florida resident Donald Trump played well, of course, to his Sunshine State base with his “Save America Rally” in Sarasota. During his 90-minute speech he tantalized his “Trump Won”-shouting fans with hints and teases that he’ll be topping the GOPster ticket again in 2024. “Together we will take back the House, take back the Senate and we will save America,” he said. He also worked in a reference to “the totally rigged and dishonest election,” a shout-out to Matt Gaetz, the denouncement of critical race theory, and criticism of the Biden Administration’s border policy as well as its tax hikes on those who pay too little. And he also underscored that he was still all in on fighting “the corrupt establishment” that didn’t include the Trump Organization’s indictment on tax fraud charges. Another day at the orifice.
  • Some 10 percent of the defendants charged with the Jan. 6 Capitol attack are either military veterans or active-duty service members. Sobering.
  • “The Biden Administration is spying on us.”—Fox News commentator and uber Trump sycophant Tucker Carlson.
  • “Twenty-first century American media has some terrible flaws, no doubt. It too often chases clicks and gossip over substance, turns minutiae into mountains and shamefully gives a platform to proven liars.”–Margaret Sullivan, Washington Post.
  • According to a WaPo/ABC poll, the divide on getting vaccinated falls sharply along party lines with 86 percent of Democrats having received at least one vaccine shot compared with 45 percent of Republicans.
  • “The red states probably have a lot of people that are very, very conservative in their thinking, and they think, ‘Well, I don’t have to do that.’ But they’re not thinking right.” That was West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice.
  • “In a rural state, in a conservative state, there is (vaccine) hesitancy. And you’re trying to overcome that.” That was Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Quoteworthy

  • “We live in an incredible universe. There’s all sorts of hypotheses that suggest that the three-dimensional universe which we live in isn’t quite so easy to explain.”—Luis Elizondo, former head of the Pentagon’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program.
  • “The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”—Former CIA Director John Brennan on UFOs.
  • “I am calling on all states to stop denying—and start dismantling—racism.”—United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.
  • “I was shocked that she would accept something from Speaker Pelosi.”—House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s reaction to Nancy Pelosi naming Republican Rep. Liz Cheney to a new select committee on the violent Jan. 6 insurrection.
  • “No Republican will vote for human infrastructure legislation.”—Jonah Goldberg, The Dispatch.
  • “How did politics become so sclerotic? … Sharp partisanship creates gridlock. Loose campaign finance rules let wealthy donors torpedo inconvenient legislation. And as the traditional news media gives way to social media, representatives talk more but do less.”—Northwestern University history professor Daniel Immerwahr.
  • “Touting ingredients as ‘local’ and ‘sustainable’ sounds good, but those terms aren’t uniformly regulated.”—Helaine Olen, Washington Post.
  • “The function of freedom is to free someone else.”—Toni Morrison.
  • “It is long past time the United States recognized the contributions of black and indigenous soldiers to the founding of the nation. These troops represented one-quarter of the fighting strength of George Washington’s Continental Army by the march to victory in Yorktown in 1781.”—U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J.
  • “Here’s the thing kids. There actually was a world before you got here. We date human events A.D. and B.C., but we need a third marker for millennials and Gen Z: B.Y. Before you.”—Comedian Kevin Hart.
  • “If Republican lawmakers were interested in real intellectual diversity, they would welcome the teaching of critical race HISTORY, which provides a more accurate account of how American democracy long eviscerated citizenship rights of black folks and placed continuing barriers that hamper the ability of marginalized groups to achieve success.”—USF historian Steven F. Austin.
  • “The old Marxism used class warfare to divide people. The new Marxism uses identity politics. But the goal is the same.”—Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
  • “Unfortunately, now the norm (for university campuses) is, these are more intellectually repressive environments.”—Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
  • “We knew leisure travel would be the first to come back from the pandemic, but we were still surprised by the turnout. …People are coming from all over.”—Miguel Diaz, area director of sales and marketing for the Wyndham Grand on Clearwater Beach, where occupancy through July tops 95 percent.
  • “We have a gang-violence problem in Tampa and Hillsborough County.”—Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller.
  • “The Tampa swagger that I talked about for eight years is alive and well, and the world is paying attention.”—Former Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, in reference to a report from Resonance Consultancy, a tourism and economic development agency, that ranked Tampa as the best city in Florida—and number 23 nationally.
  • “For many low-income families, broadband services and connected devices, like smartphones and laptops, are an unaffordable luxury, despite the fact that internet access can be considered a necessity.”—Stanley Gray, executive director of the Urban League of Hillsborough County.
  • “Many people seem to think that the arts begin and end at the Straz Center and Tampa Museum of Art and Tampa Theatre, and there’s so much more to the arts here in Tampa that need to be seen.”—Tampa Arts Alliance co-founder and chairman Neil Gobioff.
  • “I think the mayor has done a decent job. She’s listened to Council. I mean the way this council is set up, we question everything.”—Tampa City Council Chairman Orlando Gudes.
  • “People follow what’s going on in sports, and they know that at least right now, Tampa Bay is kicking ass.”—Jeff Vinik.
  • “You really have to immortalize the moment that you’re living. You just never know what those lasting images can create.”—Visit Tampa Bay president and CEO Santiago Corrada.
  • “We’re a mid-size market, but when it comes to sports, we are top-tier.”—Former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio.

The Biden Agenda

* “Afghans are going to have to decide their future.” Those who believe in self-determination surely agree with President Joe Biden. The president also promised Afghanistan’s top leaders a “sustained” partnership with the U.S.–as America winds down from its longest war. You don’t have to be a Republican, however, to perceive the administration’s challenge in threading this rhetorical, foreign-policy needle.

* It’s official, the UN General Assembly has again voted overwhelmingly in support of a resolution calling for the U.S. to lift its Cuban embargo. The final, familiar tally: 184 in favor of lifting the embargo and two “no” votes, courtesy of the U.S. and Israel. There were also three abstentions: Colombia, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates. Bottom line: if “America is back” and truly in sync with our allies and what is geopolitically and morally right, we would have sided with 184 other countries.

* President Biden is pushing an anti-crime strategy in the wake of a spike in homicides across the country—notably cracking down on gun stores that don’t follow federal rules. A related, lower-profile priority is Biden’s goal to reduce recidivism by opening opportunities to those leaving prison—including hiring more of them in federal jobs. Biden also wants to offer additional federal housing vouchers for former prisoners. It’s not just the right thing to do; it’s in the enlightened self-interest of society. Re-integrating former felons impacts all of us.

* “I do trust the president.”–Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah.

* According to the Democratic data firm Catalist, Donald Trump made bigger gains with nonwhite voters in 2020 than he did among white voters without a college degree. That has to be addressed to build on the Biden election and to counter the Trump base that isn’t, alas, going away.

It’s no secret that the progressive and liberal-moderate wings of the Democratic Party need to wax pragmatic as well as idealistic. Progressives, in particular, have to ratchet up their appeal to black and brown voters, which isn’t always a given. “The median black voter is not A.O.C.,” underscored Stanford University political scientist Hakeem Jefferson.

* “I think when it comes to preserving democracy, I would suspend the filibuster because I think it’s essential.”–Former President Bill Clinton.

* Previous Biden Administration COVID goal: at least one vaccine dose to 70 percent of adults by July 4. New goal: ensuring that 70 percent of Americans age 27 and up receive at least one shot by July 4.

* The vaccination pace has slowed notably since mid-April, when more than 3 million shots per day were being given. Approximately 1 million shots a day were administered in the last week.

COVID Bits

*Iceland, the island nation with a population approximating Tampa’s, is abolishing all domestic COVID-19 restrictions. Icelandic officials have reported that 87 percent of those 16 and older have received at least one vaccine dose.

* “Breakthrough” infections in May in fully vaccinated people accounted for fewer than 1,200 of more than 853,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations. That’s approximately 0.1 percent. In short, nearly all U.S. COVID deaths now are unvaccinated.

* Multiple surveys continue to find that about a third of Americans have no immediate plan to get vaccinated. The reasons vary from an exaggerated threat to immunity scenarios to “freedom” rationales. Obviously, no vaccine yet for vanity or stupidity.

* The Delta variant, the most transmissible variant out there, puts the non-vaccinated at an even greater risk.

* According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of miles driven decreased, yet traffic deaths rose 7 percent. It’s because of people driving faster on emptied highways.

* “The pandemic exacerbated all of the inequities we had in our country—along racial lines, health lines, social lines, economic lines. All of the drivers of gun violence pre-pandemic were just worsened last year.”–Shani Buggs, assistant professor with the University of California at Davis’ Violence Prevention Research Program.

* Missouri has the highest rate of new COVID-19 infections in the country. In a recent four-day period the number of new cases increased 72 percent.

* 6 billion: the number of meetings people joined using Google Meet from March 2020 to March 2021.

* In expectation of a post-pandemic nursing shortage, USF’s College of Nursing plans to boost its number of graduates by about 24 percent over the next two to three years.

* The first cruise to depart a U.S. port with passengers in 15 months: Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Edge cruise ship—from Port Everglades. The ship, with a capacity of 2,900, departed at 40 percent capacity. Celebrity Cruises, which is owned by Royal Caribbean, requires passengers to be vaccinated on cruises OUTSIDE of Florida. Those departing from Florida, said Celebrity Cruises, will have at least 95 percent of passengers and crew vaccinated.

Florida

* “Socialism factories.” That’s how Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson described Florida’s universities.

* “Critical Race Theory” reality: That’s Ron DeSantis’ self-serving, pro-Trump-agenda theory that is critical for his gubernatorial re-election—as well as a possible presidential primary race.

Media Matters

* “According to the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford, only 21 percent in the U.S. said that they paid for news online. Of those who do, 31 percent say they pay for the New York Times, 24 percent for the Washington Post and 23 percent for the site of a local or regional paper.

* “(The presidential press conference) has turned into a shout fest of ‘gotchas’ and repeated, ad nauseum, questions designed to make the questioner look smart and tough and the commander in chief dumb.”–Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial.

Sports Shorts

* The Tokyo Olympics begin July 23. Organizers have set a limit of 50 percent capacity—up to a maximum of 10,000, all of whom must be residents of Japan.

* It’s Tampa Bay vs. Montreal for all the Stanley Cup glory. Only this final has a twist to it. The Lightning finished the regular season at 36-17-3 for a total of 75 points. The 3 stands for overtime losses, so the Bolts were 36-20 overall. Montreal was 24-21-11 and 59 points. Overall, the Canadiens were 24-32, which means a team with an overall losing record made the 2021 Stanley Cup finals. But they went on an impressive, post-season roll and hadn’t been playing like underdogs. Go, Bolts.

* “I got a word for it. … Kevin Love is on the team because of tokenism.”–That was ESPN analyst Jalen Rose on the selection of Love, who is white, for the U.S. Olympic basketball team.

* The Los Angeles Angels’ amazing pitcher-slugger Shohei Ohtani hit a 453-foot home run in his first at bat against the Rays. In his next at bat, he dragged a bunt single. He’s that unique.

* “We don’t want to turn baseball into Jerry Springer.”—Rays pitcher Rich Hill, on MLB allowing onfield inspections of pitchers.

Trumpster Diving

* Rudy Giuliani: from “America’s Mayor” to “Trump’s minion” to “America’s Sell-Out.” That’s the well-earned, updated legacy after an appeals court suspended Giuliani from practicing law in New York because he made false statements while trying to get courts to overturn Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 election.

* Jonathan Karl’s book “Betrayal” includes interviews with former Attorney General–and staunch Trump supporter–William Barr. Among the more notable Barr quotes: “It was all bullsh*t.” That was the former AG’s disparaging response to Trump’s election-fraud assertions. Spineless RINO.” That was Trump’s response.

* “I’m truly sorry for offending people with remarks about the Holocaust.” That was Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greenes pro forma apology for comments comparing the required wearing of safety masks in the House to the horrors of the Holocaust. But, no, her Georgia constituents aren’t apologizing for electing her—any more than Trump hasn’t apologized for being Taylor Greene’s QAnon/conspiracy inspiration nor has Matt Gaetz apologized for accompanying Taylor Greene on their “America First” rally tour.